Chop 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans in a food processor until finely ground. Add 1 1/4 cups fine graham cracker crumbs, 2 tablespoons sugar, and 5 tablespoons melted butter. Mix well. Pour into a 9-inch springform pan. Press mixture evenly over bottom of pan. Bake at 375° about 10-12 minutes. Set aside.
- 1 large sweet potato (enough for 1 cup mashed)
- 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 3 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese at room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
Maple cream (recipe follows)
- Preheat oven to 375°. Peel sweet potatoes and cube. Place in a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and brush with melted butter. Bake until potatoes are soft when pressed, 30-40 minutes.
- Mash in a bowl with lemon juice until smooth. Reserve 1 cup; save any extra for another use.
- Reduce oven temperature to 325°. In a bowl, with a mixer on high speed, beat cream cheese until fluffy. Gradually beat in granulated and brown sugars, scraping down sides of bowl occasionally, until mixture is well blended and smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended. Add reserved sweet potato mixture, the whipping cream, sour cream, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. Mix on low speed until well blended.
- Wrap bottom of pan with heavy-duty foil, pressing it up the sides. Pour batter over crust. Put cheesecake pan in a 12- by 15-inch roasting pan at least 2 inches deep. Set pans in oven and pour enough boiling water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cheesecake pan.
- Bake until cake barely jiggles in the center when gently shaken, about 55 minutes. Remove pans from oven. Let cool completely on a rack, about 1 hour, then chill until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours, or up to 3 days (cover once cold).
- Up to 6 hours before serving, cut around inside of pan rim to release cake; remove rim. With a pastry bag, pipe dollops of maple cream onto cake.
In a bowl, with a mixer on high speed, beat 3/4 cup whipping cream until stiff peaks form. On low speed, beat in 1/4 cup maple syrup just until blended.
Notes: You can make this cheesecake up to 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Garnish with cream up to 6 hours before serving; cover and chill until serving. Prep and Cook Time: about 2 1/2 hours, plus at least 2 1/2 hours to cool and chill.